As expected, the documentary series ‘The Last Dance’ recently draw a reaction from the former University of Louisville star LaBradford Smith, best known for the ‘LaBradford Smith game’ episode with MJ. On March 19th, 1993, the Washington Bullets guard played his best NBA game scoring a game-high 37 points on 15-20 shooting from the field while being matched up with the World’s best – Michael Jordan.
“Once I hit about two or three shots, the confidence grew, and it seemed like the basket got bigger. I didn’t realize how many points I had until the guys were like ‘Hey, you gave Mike 37.’”LaBradford Smith, WAVE 3 News
Despite Smith’s most impressive career performance, the Chicago Bulls managed to pull out 104-99 home win. For the last 27+ years it was taught that after this game Smith approached MJ and bravely told him:
“Nice game, Mike.”LaBradford Smith, allegedly
Now, from the latest episode of ‘The Last Dance,’ we learn that this statement, which had become a part of the myth, was made up by Jordan to feed his complicated inner motivational drive.
“He made it up to motivate himself. There’s nothing he would not do to get himself to the place where he’s going to beat you.”Michael Wilbon, The Last Dance
Jordan’s teammate B.J. Armstrong recalled the conversation with raging MJ on the plane, on the flight preceding the Chicago Bulls’ second encounter of back-to-back meetings with the Washington Bullets. Already during the pregame warm-ups, Smith got a definite hint of what kind of ‘avalanche’ is coming his way.
“Rodney McCray and B.J. Armstrong, I was at center court stretching, and they were like ‘LA, I hope you got your rest last night because he said he’s going to have 37 by half,’”LaBradford Smith, WAVE 3 News
Jordan, known for his’ vengeance with a smile’ on a basketball court, never let anyone be better than him in – anything. Notably, a second-year pro who averaged less than 10 points per game. So, the very next night in Washington, D.C. Jordan almost kept his word by scoring 36 points in the first half alone, before reaching a total of 47 points in a game on 16-27 shooting from the field.
This isn’t the only time a player made stuff up to motivate himself, and create a mythology around himself. Shaquille O’Neal did the same to David Robinson. For a long time, Shaq told the story of The Admiral blowing him off, when Shaq was a kid asking for an autograph. He used that moment to fuel his fire. Anyone who knew Robinson though that was oddly out of his character. Years after the fact, Shaq admitted he made the whole thing up.
Nevertheless, LaBradford Smith remains as one of a rare few NBA players who managed to outscore Michael Jordan during his 15-year long NBA journey in a direct match-up.